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Old 26.09.2015, 12:59
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Skiing for a week in early December

Hey folks,

(Sorry for the long message, but I try to express exactly what I'm looking for so as to save everyone's time with useless answers.)

What
I'm looking for a place to go skiing for a week at the beginning of December.

Background
I live in Zurich. Every year I manage to ski/snowboard about 25 days between France and Switzerland. France for week-long trips during the high season, Switzerland for one off days here and there when the condition are great. I've even managed to have an awesome powder day late November two years ago in Hoch Ybrig, but I wouldn't bet on that for a week .

Question
I know Zermatt is a good spot but it's also extremely expensive for a week (the accommodation especially). So I'm basically asking here because I think in Austria for instance, the snow season may start earlier than in France because of the more continental climate, increasing my odds to have good snow conditions for an entire week without having to wait the last moment to book.

So do you guys have any advice? I don't mean to be rude, but please avoid answers like "I've been there once early December, it was great" . I'm looking for answers from people with longer experience and ideally who can compare climate between what I know in France and what one can find in Austria.

Bonus point: I am a freerider. I acknowledge that it's likely a bit demanding for this time of the season, but well... the steeper the better!

Thanks a lot for reading until here!
-j
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Old 26.09.2015, 13:48
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

Simple answer: Engleberg. Best freeride anywhere (in my biased opinion).

The "glacier season" starts next weekend, and normally most of the Jochpass & Titlis areas are fully open by late November. Snow-dependent, of course, and no guarantee that the homes run down to the village at 1000m will be open.

And the new Titlis Express gondala is opening Dec. 11th, so the journey time up to the top will be slashed.
http://www.titlis.ch/en/ski-resort/information
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Old 26.09.2015, 14:00
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

For early December and wanting to freeride, it's a complete gamble anywhere in the Alps. The last few years, in "general", it's been a bit better in the South and further East.

Engelberg was not good in early-last December (didn't pick up until after X-mas). The Steinberg was skiable though as not as much of the snow on the glacier had melted during the previous Summer/Fall. This year it's not the same and will require a few good dumps to cover up the holes. Other years have been excellent in early December with powder galore but in general, there will only be a "few" good days before winter really kicks in.

If it was me, I would wait until the last minute. I never book more than a couple of weeks in advance for resort ski-trips in any case though. If I wanted to gamble, I would choose the West coast of Norway for early December.
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Old 26.09.2015, 16:54
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

Ischgl in AUstria, is a good bet. quite high altitude with good snow making facilities. Was there last season early december, it was one of the few resorts open with more than a few KM of pistes.
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Old 24.10.2015, 12:45
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

Hi, I used to live in St Gallen so went skiing and boarding in Austria quite abut over the last few seasons. I wouldn't really recommend the off piste so early in the season as there will still be quite a few rocks. Sölden is a decent resort with a few nice blacks and reds. Part of it is a glacier so you are guaranteed decent snow and pretty much all runs should be open by then. It's not the prettiest of ski towns but is cheap (warning: in Austria most places add on a cleaning fee of around €50-€100 regardless of how many people and how long you stay for!). The aprés is quite lively! If you get board of the pistes you can always drive 20-30 mins down the valley to Obergurgl which is great for families but I found it a little tame for my liking.

St Anton is one of my favorite resorts in Austria, huge area when you include Lech and Zug/Zurs all under the one pass but I doubt all of the pistes will be open at the time. Great variety and loads of free riding but again loads of rocks at the start of the season. It also has legendary aprés but very expensive accommodation. Quite difficult to find accommodation so best bet is to contact the tourist information in St Anton to see what they have.

I have heard that Kitzbuhel is open already. The town is stunning but I found the mountain really dull. It's a big enough area but the pistes are very short. Free riding was very poor. There is supposed to be 'secret stashes' and it must be a good secret as I couldn't find them!

Ischgl isn't bad but I would get board there if I was there for a week. It's not too far from St Anton so you could find cheaper accommodation between the two and try both. Means you would miss the aprés though which I feel is a big part of a ski holiday!

Hintertux is another snow sure area with a glacier near Insbruck but I have never been so can't really comment.

Been to Mayrhofen, was decent with reasonable accommodation and good aprés but not very exciting pistes. Same with Söll but lacks aprés. Zell am See is just average, good for beginners.

The websites Bergfex and ifyouski are good websites for checking out weather and snow conditions. They also have an accommodation section but I haven't used it so can't comment on how useful it is.

Hope this helps and if you get a chance to go anywhere in Austria later in the season, try St Anton, you will not regret it!

Dave
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Old 24.10.2015, 13:02
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

I forgot to add that if you have your own car then you can do a mini tour. St Anton, Lech, Ischgl, Sölden and Obergurgl are all within a 2 hours drive from each other. That way you will get a lot of variety so you wouldn't get bored of all of the runs weren't open. Could start with the furthest which is Sölden/Obergurgl then to Ischgl then Lech/St Anton, saving the best for last when the conditions should be better. I still don't think you are going to get the free riding you are looking for though, it's too early. You really need to go to the states or Canada for that.

I used to go quite a bit in December but now I prefer to wait until January when all of the mountain is open and most of the rocks off piste are covered up.

I am new to Zurich and hoping to meet other skiers/boarders of a similar lever. Been to most of the big/popular resorts in Europe and a good few in North America, looking forward to exploring some of the smaller hidden gems this season. I haven't heard of the one you mentioned before, I guess it is not too far? Is it similar in size to Flumserberg/Toggenberg?
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Old 24.10.2015, 14:53
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Re: Skiing for a week in early December

Stubai in Austria is already open...
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